Dear Cleo 18 10 23

Dearest Cleo

I hope the weather in Dorset is fine for you, It was lovely here in London today. I have been looking at the Mannerists, the latter works of Michelangelo were Mannerist but here are three Mannerists that you probably don’t know about.

Of the three Mannerists chosen, two of them are Correggio and Parmigianino, who fit quite well together, as they were contemporaries. Both practised in Italy in the first part of the Sixteenth Century both were highly adept in Renaissance painting techniques and both used distortion of the figure to make their paintings more expressive.

Parmigianino did this famously in the Madonna with the long neck,

Figure 1 Madonna with the long neck

Look at the distortion of the Christ child to enormous proportions to suit the flow of the design. The angels who appear undistorted are crammed in one side of the picture to unbalance the work in opposition to Renaissance harmony. All this adds movement and expression to the image in an attempt to add something more than the mere depiction of life.

Figure 2 Ecce Homo

Correggio does much the same in Ecce Homo, look at the size of Jesus’ hands and arms compared to those of the people in front of him, it it a return to hierarchies of scale, but this time for the effect of the composition, the elongation of the form to suit the composition was a key concept of mannerism, again the unbalanced composition introduces movement into the piece.

Mannerism introduced a greater sense of air and space surrounding the figures into what was then contemporary art.

The difference or the odd man out was El Greco Who worked at the latter end of the sixteenth Century when Mannerism was in full flow. His distortions of the figure for pictorial effect are legend, so much so that they, four hundred years later influenced Cezanne, Picasso and the abstract expressionists. I think the best way to understand this is to look at perhaps his finest work The Burial of the Count of Orgaz. The lower half of this painting shows the earthly realm and the top half of the painting shows the heavenly realm. In the lower half, El Greco uses the Renaissance techniques he had learned in Italy, the imaginary upper half cam only be described as pure El Greco.

Figure 3 The Burial of the Count of Orgaz

It is a pure expression of El Greco’s imagination combining his icon and Renaissance training into his own style of expressive imaginative painting. He developed this style further in such works as Christ with the cross and of course Purification of the Temple and perhaps reached the zenith with The vision of St John which could have almost been painted by Cezanne.

Figure 4 The vision of St John

Have fun on your holiday.

My love as always


Mickos xx



Gallery visits

The National Gallery rooms 8 and 9


Bender, N.(s.d.) Parmigianino: 160 Paintings and Drawings. Kindle Edition: Icon-m.

Ankele, D. and D. (2011) Correggio. California: Ankele Publishing LLC.

Internet Research

National Gallery (s.d.) Christ presented to the people. At: (accessed 22/10/18)

Wikipedia. (s.d.) Parmigianino. At: (accessed 22/10/18)

National Gallery (s.d.) Christ driving the traders from the temple. At: (accessed 22/10/18)

Present (2011) El Greco: Paintings Biography and quotes. At: (accessed 22/10/18)